by Moshe Benarroch
Buffalo Zen is Rex Foster's third cd. His two very convincing previous cds, Artist and Believin', brought the best of Austin, Texas songwriting with more than a hint of Townes van Zandt and Guy Clark. By this third cd, Foster is his own man and his own branch of singer- songwriting in the fruitful tree of Texas. Saying this for me is like saying he has entered the pantheon of the best music on this planet.
Buffalo Zen is the kind of cd you just have to put on the system every time someone comes to your house. I am always happy when a reviewer, or someone who says he has "heard everything," comes over and I ask him, "Have you heard Rex Foster?" and he says, "Rex who?" I hope that this won't last too long, and that Foster will soon become a much better-known artist. If I were writing for Newsweek, I could say, "I have seen the future of country music, and its name is Rex Foster."
This is the future, because Foster digs deep into the tradition that Hank Williams started, and that was fed by Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and countless others. He brings his own voice into this overcrowded territory, without forgetting to take the best of all the rest. Humility and honesty are Foster's best advocates.
Produced by Peter Rowan, Buffalo Zen is very acoustic, and most of the time is very intimate, with four or five musicians way back in the recording, while Rex's voice is always up front. In this respect, his recording reminded me a bit of early Suzanne Vega.A quote from Take My Ashes To the River:
I have overpraised this cd, and I am just thinking I may be making a fool of myself, and maybe twenty years from now not many people will know about Foster. But for me this is the big prize of reviewing cds: discovering singers like Foster that I wouldn't have heard any other way.
By all means, anyone who likes Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and other songwriters related to Austin: give a listen to Rex Foster. I also think that No Depression bands (or alternative country, the likes of Wilco, Son Volt, or Whiskeytown) could find many of Foster's songs to cover. The material is just great on each of his three cds. This is the real thing!